A blog for the socially and politically conscious, written by a young, gay activist who strongly believes in equality and justice.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Tale of sound and fury

Having spent a column on the Labour manifesto and another on the Tory travesty, it seems only fair to take the time to comment on the Lib Dem offering. But it's the most difficult of all to analyse, because it's without doubt the most deceitful. It has clearly been developed without the slightest fear of being implemented. Even the Lib Dems themselves have no illusions about the likelihood of winning a parliamentary majority. And doesn't it show? It's a hotch-potch of policies thrown together with ingredients to please everyone in part, to grab votes without commitment to any philosophy of government. And it's in contradiction to everything we know about the Lib Dem style of work in local authorities, which is the only yardstick that can be used, since you can't very well find their track record in government. They don't have one. It's the mealy-mouthed equivocations that you have to look for, as usual with this party. At first sight, peace activists might be attracted by the commitment to abandon Trident. But on closer inspection, is it all that it seems? No, it most certainly isn't. All that the Lib Dems say is that they wouldn't support a "like-for-like" replacement and what exactly does that mean? We can't tell and neither can anyone else. It could mean banana-shaped missiles rather than pointy ones.

They talk about the end of the ID card scheme but at the same time the Lib Dems' dream Britain will see the reintroduction of exit checks at ports and airports, the development of a national border force with police powers, electronic tagging, privatisation of the asylum system, hospitals feeding information on patients to the police and a whole host of repressive measures. On power, what do we see? Why, it's a full stop on coal-fired power stations unless they have fully developed carbon capture facilities. Nuclear power stations are out - a new generation is rejected out of hand. But there's going to be investment in turning derelict shipyards into wind turbine manufacturers. Quite where these shipyards are going to get the power to operate in the interim isn't specified, since there's no provision for investment in clean coal technology to get coal-fired stations operating and nuclear is ruled right out. Perhaps the Lib Dems envision a host of members pedalling generators in the meantime, to supplement the country's crumbling power infrastructure. It's the unreality of this politics-in-a-vacuum manifesto that irritates most. It shows worst over reforming banking. The manifesto talks about separating retail and investment banking without any idea of how this can be done in the face of inevitable resistance from the City.

It waffles on about responsible lending without the slightest analysis of how it could be achieved, as if the banks will suddenly see the light and say: "Oh, it's the Lib Dems in power, let's all be nice from now on." But it's all hot air, all promises manufactured without substance and sold to the public without qualm, despite most of it being utterly unachievable without a shift in political power to working people which the Lib Dems can't even mention because they know that their members would never tolerate it. It's still the case that you can only judge them by results and ask local authority workers up and down the country about the Lib Dems. Ask the Leeds council workers about Lib Dem policies on day-centre closure. Or about 1,400 expected job cuts. Ask Renfrewshire educationalists about the SNP/Lib Dem council's £12 million education cuts in teacher numbers and cutting school buses. And ask Brent residents about swingeing increases in care charges for elderly people, the 143 per cent increase in the cost of burying children and the new charges for bulky refuse collection. You'll hear the truth about the Lib Dem manifesto. A tale full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

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